Anyone who suffers from fibromyalgia will know that stress can cause a flare up of symptoms. When you’re stressed, whether it’s physically or emotionally, there’s a build up of the stress hormone, cortisol within the body. Cortisol can put your body in a weakened state, meaning you’re more susceptible to a fibromyalgia flare up. Unlike changes in weather or injuries, stress can gradually build up and cause an unexpected flare up of symptoms. Therefore it’s important to manage your day to day stress levels to help to reduce the risk of a flare up and keep you happy and healthy.
Meditation Can Help With Stress Management
During a meditation session, you sit in a quiet, tranquil area and clear your mind of any thoughts or feelings that might be going through your head whilst concentrating on your breathing.
When practiced for just 10 minutes per day, meditation can help to reduce feelings of stress, and has become one of the most popular stress management techniques available.
The reason why meditation is so effective at relieving stress is because it helps to reverse your body’s response to it, strengthen your tolerance, as well as helping you to relax physically too.
Our bodies have a flight or fight response which signals to the brain that you’re in grave danger (even if you’re not), causing feelings of stress and anxiety. Being in a constant state of stress can have a detrimental affect on your entire body, leading to a flare up of fibromyalgia symptoms. However, meditation can trigger the body’s relaxation response, helping to restore some calm and undo some of the damage caused by the flight or fight response.
Some additional benefits of meditation include:
- Improved immune function
- Increased creativity
- More positive outlook
- Improved sleep
- Decreased anxiety
- Can increase attention span
So if you’re looking to decrease your stress levels in order to manage your fibromyalgia symptoms, then meditating for just 10 minutes per day is a great place to start.
Make Sure You’re Getting Quality Sleep
Whether your stress levels are causing insomnia, or you’ve just not quite found the right bedtime routine for you, missing out on quality sleep can cause your stress levels to skyrocket.
This is because lack of sleep can cause the body to increase the production of stress hormones, causing you to feel stressed and anxious – especially in the afternoon when stress hormones tend to peak.
So in order to make sure you’re getting enough quality sleep each night, you should:
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day
- Avoid napping during the day
- Meditate regularly to decrease your stress levels
- Reduce screen time in the evening
- Avoid caffeine after 3pm
- Try to reduce your alcohol consumption
- Only use your bedroom to sleep
- Exercise regularly
Just implementing a few of the tips above could help you to improve your sleep and reduce your stress levels, helping you to manage your fibromyalgia.
Try to Identify the Sources of Stress
If you’ve tried meditation and get 8 hours of sleep each night, then you might want to look deeper into what’s causing you stress.
Whether it’s your job, a friendship, or your finances – identifying the source of your stress can help you to come up with an action plan in order to manage it.
However, if nothing springs to mind when you’re trying to identify what’s stressing you out, it might be worth keeping a mood journal to establish the source. Simply write down how you’re feeling each morning and evening and any reasons why you might be feeling that way, for example ‘I’m feeling stressed because I’ve had a hard day at work’.
If the same reason keeps popping up regularly, then that’s probably the source of your stress, and identifying it will allow you to come up with an action plan to combat it.
So whether you decide you need to change your job, sort out your finances or simply organise your time a little better, it’s important to be aware of how your daily routine could be affecting your mental and physical health.
Take Some Time for You
If you find yourself always running round after other people and never taking time for yourself, you’ll end up feeling stressed, tired and lacking in motivation.
So if you’re looking for an easy stress management technique to help you to take a little more control of your fibromyalgia, then simply taking time for yourself will help you to relax, unwind and reduce stress.
So whether you take an hour to watch a few episodes of your favourite series, bake a cake or take a relaxing bath – allocating just a few hours each week to self care will go a long way towards reducing your stress levels.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
As a fibromyalgia sufferer, you may be aware of which foods to avoid and which to include in your diet in order to help you to manage your condition. However, your diet can play a big role in stress reduction too.
Unfortunately, stress can cause an increase in appetite, specifically for sugary or high-fat foods. However, when you’re feeling stressed, it’s important to try and maintain a healthy diet in order to help combat it.
When you’re stressed, there can be a reduction in blood flow to the brain, however, some nutrient-dense foods can help to reverse this to improve blood flow within the body. These foods include:
- Oily fish such as salmon or mackerel
- Green leafy vegetables
- Sweet peppers
But it’s not just blood flow that can be improved with a healthy diet. Maintaining a healthy gut microbiome can increase your serotonin levels, as around 80% of your body’s serotonin is produced in the digestive tract. Therefore maintaining a healthy, gut-friendly diet can go a long way towards reducing your stress and boosting your mood.
Do Some Gentle Exercise
Even on the days where your fibromyalgia is particularly bad, it’s important to move your body to help to ease your symptoms and improve your mood. Whether you go on a gentle walk in the countryside, or do a workout in the comfort of your home, exercise is one of the best ways to relieve stress.
That’s because physical activity causes your brains to produce endorphins (feel-good chemicals in the brain), and reduces the levels of adrenaline and cortisol (stress hormones).
Endorphins act as natural painkillers and help to improve your mood, so even on the days when everything seems to be going wrong, a gentle walk in the fresh air could go a long way towards helping with your stress management.
So whether you take up meditation or simply clean up your diet, there are a number of different ways to manage your stress levels and reduce your chances of a fibromyalgia flare up.
We do not endorse any research, studies or sources mentioned within our blogs and comments. Furthermore, we do not endorse any medical advice provided, and would strongly recommend anyone seeking medical advice to contact their local healthcare provider.